'Betrayed by trusted friends' - Sara Payne's number on hack list
SARA Payne, the mother of a schoolgirl murdered by a paedophile, has been told there is evidence to suggest she was targeted by the private investigator employed by the News of the World to hack phones.
Police informed Ms Payne that her telephone number had been found on a list compiled by Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator jailed for intercepting voicemail messages.
The suggestion that the mother of a murder victim was targeted by the tabloid will add to the deep revulsion already triggered by the phone-hacking scandal.
Last night, it was reported that the number for Ms Payne found on Mulcaire's list was for a mobile phone which she had been given by Rebekah Brooks, the former News of the World editor.
Ms Brooks described the latest allegations as "abhorrent".
Ms Payne was given the phone as part of her work with the Sunday newspaper to campaign for better child-protection laws following the murder of her eight-year-old daughter Sarah by the paedophile Roy Whiting in 2000.
The News of the World campaigned relentlessly with Ms Payne for "Sarah's Law", which gave parents the right to know if a child abuser was living in their area.
Ms Payne's relationship with the News of the World was so close that she even wrote a farewell column in the paper's last edition, describing staff as "my good and trusted friends".
Politicians claimed Ms Payne had been betrayed by the News International paper after the latest twist to the phone-hacking scandal was revealed last night on the Guardian website.
Ms Payne was said to be "absolutely devastated" by the disclosure. She was told by officers working on Operation Weeting, the Met Police's inquiry into phone-hacking, that her details had been found among 8,000 numbers contained in Mulcaire's notes.
Previously, she had been reassured that her name was not among the 4,000 people listed in documents compiled by the private investigator.
But as officers sifted through all the information, they eventually found the number of the phone given to Ms Payne by the newspaper.
Last night, a statement from Phoenix Chief Advocates - the charity run by Ms Payne and her friends Shy Keenan and Fiona Crook - said: "Whilst it was previously confirmed by Operation Weeting that Sara Payne's name was not on private investigator Glenn Mulcaire's list, it has now been confirmed by the Operation Weeting (investigators] that Sara's details are on his list.
"Sara is absolutely devastated by this news, we're all deeply disappointed and are just working to get her through it."Sara will continue to work with the proper authorities regarding this matter."
The revelation came to light at the end of a day that saw Lord Justice Leveson set out the terms of his inquiry into the scandal.
The inquiry was ordered by Prime Minister David Cameron after the shocking revelation that the phone of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler had been hacked by the News of the World.
By hacking into the murder victim's phone, the News of the World gave her parents false hope that she was still alive.
The News of the World has also been accused of hacking into the phones of 7/7 bombing victims and grieving military families.
The suggestion that another family of a murder victim may have been subjected to phone hacking was greeted with anger and surprise - especially given Ms Payne's close association with Ms Brooks.
Downing Street sources were said to be shocked by the suggestion. Former Labour home secretary Jacqui Smith said: "If this is true, it is a very awful betrayal of her by people who had worked alongside her to try and help the safety of children in this country.
"I think Sara, and I, thought the campaign run on Sarah's Law was a very strong and effective one, so this does make it even worse if this is what happened to her."
Shadow culture secretary Ivan Lewis said: "There will be shock and bewilderment at this . . . and it will add to the shock and revulsion of people around the country. Clearly, there was systematic illegal practices at this newspaper over a period of time and until we get to the bottom of that we cannot rest.
"When you think of what she has been through, it is unspeakable. She has had the tragedy of losing her daughter and now she has to deal with this."
Last night, Ms Brooks issued a statement through her London-based PR agent Bell Pottinger.
She said: "These allegations are abhorrent and particularly upsetting as Sara Payne is a dear friend. For the benefit of the campaign for Sarah's Law, the News of the World have provided Sara with a mobile telephone for the last 11 years. It was not a personal gift.
"The idea that anyone on the newspaper knew that Sara or the campaign team were targeted by Mr Mulcaire is unthinkable. The idea of her being targeted is beyond my comprehension. It is imperative for Sara and the other victims of crime that these allegations are investigated and those culpable brought to justice."
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